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U.S.-China School Exchange Resource Center

The Resource Center was created to provide information for current and prospective administrators of K-12 US-China exchange programs. The information is available to all. We only ask that you register your affiliation. This will enable us to keep track of US-China exchange programs throughout the country, for the ultimate purpose of creating a network of practitioners in the field. We will not distribute your profile information to any third party.

Frequently Asked Questions

China is the world’s most populous country and has one of the world’s largest economies.  Being familiar with the country will open doors for future careers in all fields, especially business, law, education, and diplomacy.  For the sake of good decision-making in our democracy, it is important that Americans are knowledgeable about this large, important nation.  China is a country with a dazzling cultural heritage.  Learning about China enriches our lives and deepens our understanding not only of Chinese culture, but also of our own.

Sell it:
At every opportunity, point out that international experiences are vital to preparing students for success in the 21st century. Try to build on the existing interest in world events to generate deeper interest in China.

Explain that having a Chinese partner school provides opportunities for teachers and students to actually experience school and family life in China. Such an experience opens eyes and doors to exciting study and career opportunities.

Get Teachers Involved:
Encourage your teachers to participate in professional development programs and study tours. Give them time and resources to update curricula with information on contemporary China and to collaborate with teachers in other departments.

Reach Out to the Community:
Get students and parents excited. You can arrange celebrations of Chinese festivals, offer language classes (on site or virtual), start clubs about Chinese art/culture/calligraphy, etc. Hosting a group of students and teachers from China is also a great way to raise awareness and interest in studying the language and culture.

While students and teachers who host Chinese visitors and travel to China are the most direct beneficiaries of US-China school exchange programs, sister school relationships benefit entire schools and communities as well. Visitors from China bring a bit of that country into the schools they attend and communities in which they live. Americans who travel to China return with first-hand knowledge and insights, spreading the wealth to their families, friends, classmates, and teachers.

Exchange trips to China are surprisingly inexpensive.  Airfare to China is the biggest expense; a round-trip ticket costs $1,000-$1,500.  Americans must also get a China visa, which costs $140. In China, the majority of time will be spent living with host families from your partner school, which costs nothing and dramatically lowers the cost of the exchange, though participants should bring gifts for their host family. Your partner school will provide local sight seeing and cultural events. If your group decides to travel beyond the partner school, they must cover their own expenses. With good planning, a 15-day exchange trip can be kept close to $2,500.

 The American school is responsible for preparing and sending a formal letter of invitation for the Chinese visitor’s visa application, finding host families, scheduling classes, planning activities, and providing lunch, school bus services, and entrance fees to school events. Host families are then responsible for providing all other meals. Exchange Committee members can also get involved by taking visitors sight seeing, to sporting or cultural events, and by organizing welcome and farewell events.

The Chinese visitors will cover all travel expenses, such as airfare and visa application fees. If they decide to travel beyond the program, they will do so at their own expense.

A successful program requires time and commitment, but it is well worth the effort. On the most basic level, it requires dedicated educators that really understand the value of an exchange and the opportunities it creates. Day to day responsibilities include recruiting students and teachers, selecting host families, preparing an itinerary for hosting and traveling to China, managing communications with the partner school, coordinating volunteers, and “marketing” the program. Creating a program steering committee composed of teachers, administrators, and parents is a great way to share some of these responsibilities and reduce the administrative burden.

An exchange program will thrive over many years if it has a broad base of support within the school and the community. Find and engage administrators, teachers, and parents who recognize the value of an exchange and will work to help it grow. Provide an educational context for the program with related curriculum and language study. Reduce costs and maximize the experience by focusing on school and home-stays rather than on tourism. Invite the exchange teachers and students to share their school, culture, art, music, etc. with other schools in your district and with organizations in the community, such as local Rotary clubs or retirement homes. Keep the community engaged in events, hosting, and fundraising. Be sure to maintain open and on-going communication with your host school throughout the year to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that problems are quickly solved.

For ideas about potential programs and different ways to collaborate with your partner school see our Next Steps Guide.


Sample School Exchange Programs

Semester Long Programs

The connection between Newton and the Beijing Jingshan School was established in 1979 and the schools began exchanging students and teachers in 1985. Chinese students travel to the US in the fall and American students travel to China in the spring. Each group spends four months living with host families and studying at their host school. For the American group, there is also a six-week intensive summer language institute followed by an after school language and culture class in the fall.

Brookline High School established their exchange program with the Gao Xin School in Xi’an, China in 1999. Every year, a delegation of eight students and one teacher from China spends the fall semester in Brookline and a similar group travels from Brookline to Xi’an for the spring semester. Both groups live with host families during their stay. In addition, American students study pre-modern Chinese history and culture during the fall semester before their study abroad.

The Academy of the Pacific Rim has several exchange programs with their partner, the Beijing No. 80 school. In 2008 the schools started a trimester-long exchange program, giving two to four students the opportunity to spend twelve weeks studying at their sister school. Recently, they are also working to create a summer language and culture program in China.

2 Month Programs

Established in 2002, The Dover-Sherborn Hangzhou China Exchange Program is an eight-week program between the Dover-Sherborn High School and the Hangzhou High School. In January a delegation of one teacher and two to three students travels to Hangzhou, where they teach English classes and study Chinese history, language, and culture. While in America, Chinese students teach lessons on Chinese culture and language and also take classes in American Studies. Both groups live with host families.

The exchange program between Sharon High School and the Gaoxin-Tangnan School in Xi’an, China was founded in 2008. Every spring the American students travel to China for two months, staying with host families, and the Chinese students return the visit in the fall.

 1-3 Week Programs

The Academy of the Pacific Rim has several exchange programs with their partner, the Beijing No. 80 school. Since 2001 they have offered a two and a half-week program for fifteen to twenty students. Chinese students travel to the US in January, staying with host families and touring the Boston area. In April the American students return the visit, living with host families and in the school’s dormitory.

Winchester’s Dandelion School Project is a very unique program that connects Winchester High School with the Dandelion School, a private school for the children of migrant workers who lack access to China’s public school system. Every summer a small group of American students travels to China and spends 12 days teaching English at the Dandelion School and touring around Beijing and Xi’an.

The partnership between Luoyang Senior High School and Weston High School began in 2007 and in 2009 the first delegation of Chinese students traveled to the United States. During the three-week exchange, Chinese students live with host families and visit all the schools in the district, teaching classes on Chinese culture. In China, the American students attend classes and live mainly in the school dorm, though they do spend one weekend with a host family. Towards the end of their stay the American group also takes a short trip to Xi’an.


Starting a Program

This section is for educators seeking guidance on how to launch a K-12 US-China exchange program.

1. Finding a Partner School »

2. Building Interest and Support in a School Community»

3. Finding a Program Director»

4. Setting Up a Steering Committee »

5. Deciding on the Exchange Program Structure »

See more


Managing a Program

This section helps program administrators solve common problems encountered while managing K-12 US-China exchanges.  Have a different problem that needs help solving?  Submit a question via our portal.

Yearly Schedule for Managing an Exchange Program

Bringing Chinese Teachers and Students to the U.S. 

  • General Information
  • Hosting Students
  • School Life

Sending American Exchange Students and Teachers to China

  • General Information
  • Living with Host Families
  • School Life


News in the Field